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The history of settlement and migration of loyalists to nova scotia

We learn about land clearing, provisioning, where and how supplies were obtained, and the hardships faced and overcome by Black Pioneers. Slide 2 Many Black Pioneers of 1783 slept in tents and crude huts until homes could be built. Those who were members of the military often stayed aboard ship, as did wealthier white Loyalists.

In 1813, Black Loyalists stayed in tents and in alm houses in Halifax. Slide 3 Clearing the land and planting a garden were important first activities of Black Pioneers.

Those from the New England area had experienced a similar climate and soil; those from the Southern States struggled to adapt successfully.

  • A What are the people in the picture doing?
  • E What part did the British military play in the beginning of the Black settlement in Nova Scotia in 1783 and 1812?
  • This was a source of rejoicing for free Black settlers.

The Preston area was also the home of the Jamaican Maroons from 1796 to 1800. In 1800, the Jamaican Maroons left for Sierra Leone.

Slide 4 Provisions for settlement came from the military commissary. Black Loyalist Pioneers did not receive all the seeds, lumber, tools, assistance and land which they were promised and which were necessary to avoid undue hardship. Many had to work at low pay for others to obtain the provisions which had been promised for free. Most Black Pioneers received land with poor soil or no land at all.

Beginning a New Life in Nova Scotia Black Loyalists Arrive in Nova Scotia The British promises to white and Black Loyalists included free land, free transportation to that land, provisions such as seeds, clothes, building materials, knives and various other farming tools needed in the first three years of settlement in a Loyalist territory. The Black settlers of 1783 settled throughout the province of Nova Scotia. Most who arrived from the Thirteen Colonies in the spring or summer lived in tents until they were able to build homes.

Those who arrived in fall and winter lived aboard the ships until the warmth of Spring. Each day, the families went ashore to clear land and to build their new homes in the communities of Birchtown, Brindleytown, Annapolis, and in the Guysborough area.

In the capital city of Halifax, pioneer people of African descent were housed in crude bark shelters, tents and in some public buildings. Both Black and white Loyalists waited for the land grants and provisions promised by the British.

Purpose of Section: Beginning a New Life in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, to many Black Loyalists, meant freedom from slavery and oppression, and the chance to own their own land. This was a source of rejoicing for free Black settlers. The distribution of land to Black and white Loyalist settlers in Nova Scotia became corrupt due to a shortage of land surveyors, the immigration of far more Loyalist settlers than expected, and racist attitudes of those in control of the settlement system.

Many white Loyalists received the land and provisions they had been promised; very few Black Loyalists received official title to any land at all. Black Loyalists were looked upon as second class citizens and were placed on land which was rocky, only marginally fertile, and difficult to farm.

Some Black Loyalists who had served as soldiers in the British military were given title to land. Colonel Stephen Blucke, a Black Loyalist officer, received 200 acres of fertile land. Very few people of African descent who landed in the Digby area received the promised land grants. No lands were given to those who settled in the Halifax and Chedabucto areas of Nova Scotia. Those settlers were placed on the land without clear title.

The Black pioneers who did receive land grant titles, usually received only small parcels of land which contained some of the province's worst soil. The land of the Black Loyalist community of Birchtown, located on the northwestern outskirts of the mainly white community of Shelburne, was rocky and the soil poor.

Often Black pioneer settlements were located far from major settlements. Establishing a reliable farm and a market for the products of the farm was extremely difficult. Receiving very little or the history of settlement and migration of loyalists to nova scotia land caused hardships for Black Loyalist Pioneers.

The lack of provisions was equally distressing. They did not receive enough seed to plant adequate gardens, or sufficient tools for clearing land and building homes. When provisions such as seed and tools were not received as promised from the British government, they and some white Loyalists suffered greatly.

They often had to work for the provisions that had been promised as a reward for their loyalty to Britain against the American Colonies.

As former slaves, indentured servants and free Blacks in the United States, Black Loyalist Pioneers had few household possessions and little or no money. Slaves were not paid for their labour on Colonial farms.

When freed slaves arrived in Nova Scotia and did not receive the promised land and provisions, their lives became very difficult. They were not used to the cooler climate or to less fertile soil and farming conditions in this heavily forested new land of Nova Scotia. As in 1783, the land granting system in 1812 was poor.

Many Black Pioneers were placed on land without land deeds ensuring their ownership of the land. Because they were not experienced in the laws of land ownership, they were not able to press the government to give the quantity of land, clear ownership and the provisions it had promised.

Provisions were issued from a military commissary. Black Pioneers did not receive their promised share. White settlers received provisions first. In some cases, the person issuing the provisions and rations hid the materials allotted to the Black settlers. To cope, the Black settlers used a system of bartering, trading skills and labour for provisions with white Loyalist settlers and with each other. They adapted to both the climate and these adverse conditions to build their communities.

Petitions were sent to the government to ask for the promised provisions, but these were usually unsuccessful.

Background: Beginning a New Life in Nova Scotia

They were housed at Melville Island, a military prison and hospital depot near Halifax. They were eventually settled in the Preston area, on land vacated in 1792 by Black Loyalists who left for Sierra Leone when they realized that the land could not provide a living.

Black Pioneers in the Preston area were each given lots of less than 10 acres of rocky land. Despite arriving in winter to poor soil and inadequate provisions, Nova Scotia appeared more acceptable than a return to slavery in the warmer Southern United States.

Activities Focussing Activities 1. Divide the children into small groups to generate a list of tools and provisions they would take with them if they were to settle a new land. Prioritize the list of tools and provisions and explain why some items are more or less necessary.

Which of the tools listed by the students would not have been invented or available to the pioneers of African descent as they settled the land? What alternatives can students suggest to accomplish the work each machine or tool would have made easier or possible?

What work would have been impossible or next to impossible to complete? Follow Up Activities 1. Have the students record their questions in a Learning Log and on large chart paper posted in the classroom for on-going reference. Create and post a chart of students' questions for reference during this study.

  • A fictional story of Tituba, a slave who lived in Salem, Massachusetts during the 18th century, accused of witchcraft;
  • Would it come from lumber mills in Pioneer Days?
  • Bethlehem is a runaway slave;
  • As in 1783, the land granting system in 1812 was poor;
  • Freedom Crossing, New York;
  • What work would have been impossible or next to impossible to complete?

Observe slides 2 and 3, and discuss the following: A Describe the work involved in clearing the land. What tools are useful for removing stumps and rocks? B What types of shelter did people of African descent live in before building their own homes? C Does this soil look as if it might be rich farm soil?

D What assistance did the Black Pioneer receive from the government? E What difficulties or dangers might the Black Pioneer face while living in tents when they first arrived in Nova Scotia?

F How were temporary homes kept warm? G What roles did women, men and children each play in clearing the land? Observe slide 4 and discuss the following.

A What are the people in the picture doing? B Who seems to be in charge? C What provisions did the settlers receive?

Beginning A New Life in Nova Scotia

D Did Black and white settlers receive the same type and number of provisions? E What part did the British military play in the beginning of the Black settlement in Nova Scotia in 1783 and 1812? FWhere did the lumber come from? Would it come from lumber mills in Pioneer Days? G How did the time of the year affect the people and their survival in our Nova Scotia climate? H What different provisions would settlers need in the Spring and in the Fall? I What provisions could settlers gather from the land itself at different seasons of the year?

In small groups discuss and create a written record of your discussion of these questions. A If you were starting a pioneer community in 1783, what industries and jobs would you want to start first and why? B What industries would you start later in the community's history 10 -15 years after the start of the community? C Report and discuss your record with another groups. How similar and different were your findings?

What might you choose to add or eliminate from your record as a result of your discussions? From where did the people of African descent obtain tools and provision if they had not brought them with them?

  1. Establishing a reliable farm and a market for the products of the farm was extremely difficult. The last book of a trilogy about the Arabus family and its struggle for freedom from slavery during the American Revolution -- historical fiction.
  2. As in 1783, the land granting system in 1812 was poor.
  3. Shelburne Historical Society, 1978. From where did the people of African descent obtain tools and provision if they had not brought them with them?
  4. Story of a young, kidnapped, white boy who played the flute for slaves during an ocean crossing from Africa to America -- historical fiction. What tools are useful for removing stumps and rocks?
  5. The Freed Blacks Walker.

What tools and provisions were promised to the Black Pioneers? What was actually provided? Was this fair treatment? How were land grants for white and Black Loyalists of 1783 and 1812 handled differently? What did each group receive in land grants? How do you explain any differences in the land grants? Who was in charge of handing out the land grants to Loyalists in Nova Scotia?